BEREA — The chemistry between superstar wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and quarterback Baker Mayfield has strengthened throughout the first eight practices of Browns training camp.

But Beckham warns their connection will strike fear into the heart of the defenses once it evolves into what they’re seeking.

“Once you get on the same page, I just feel like it’s going to be scary,” Beckham said after Friday’s practice.

Beckham acknowledged his connection with his new quarterback is the work in progress everyone involved thought it would be at this early stage.

“Everything that’s great comes with patience, takes time, so we’re still developing,” Beckham said. “The best part about it is it’s training camp. It’s not real season right now. So we’re just trying to all get on the same page, get everything down, but it’s been a lot of fun, working with Coach Freddie [Kitchens], Bake and everybody else just trying to get better each and every day.”

The importance of a receiver learning a quarterback and vice versa is not overrated in Beckham’s mind.

“Being on the same page is better than not being on the same page,” said Beckham, whom the Browns acquired in a March trade with the New York Giants. “So it’s just about figuring that stuff out, and that’s the easy stuff to talk about. That’s football. That’s the stuff that’s above the X's and O's that just comes with you just talking.

“Communication is the key to life. It’s essential, so [we’re] just finding ways. If we didn’t like something or if I did something wrong, go ask [Mayfield]. If he wants me to run a different way, we just say that, and we just keep going. There’s no egos or nothing here. We both are competitive people who want to win, and when you’ve got a guy like that, you never want to let him down. So just finding ways to get better, really.”

It would be difficult to become any better at catching a football than Beckham.

In an 11-on-11 period Friday, Beckham got behind rookie cornerback Greedy Williams, then turned at the last possible moment and used his left hand to haul in a Mayfield pass along the sideline before falling out of bounds. He made another one-handed catch earlier in practice on a short pass from Mayfield. After practice, Beckham caught 100 consecutive passes from a JUGS machine, including the last 30 with one hand.

"His skill set to play the position is unique because he has incredible ball skills," Kitchens said. "The difference between ball skills and good hands is actually getting your hands to the ball, whatever position it is. The ball can be here, and I need to get my hands to the ball. He has that. A lot of the great wide receivers have that skill set.

"Once you get your hands to the ball, can you catch the ball using your hands? He has excellent hands. Then you factor in speed, change of direction and all of those sorts of things, and that's the makeup of a good receiver."

Beckham credits fellow receiver and former Louisiana State University teammate Jarvis Landry for turning him into an acrobatic-catch machine.

"Jarvis — that’s how it all started," Beckham said. "I was very good in high school. I was always one of the most athletically gifted people in any sport that I played in, wherever I went. But he kind of showed me how to work, and he showed me how to put the extra work in to go and make those catches. And now it’s easy. To go over there and catch it off the JUGS, I don’t feel like I’m supposed to drop anything."

That's why Beckham laments not coming down with a reception Friday in a seven-on-seven, red-zone drill. Mayfield threw toward Beckham in the back left corner of the end zone with cornerback Terrance Mitchell and linebacker Christian Kirksey closely covering him. Beckham got one hand on the ball before it fell incomplete.

"I feel like I should make that catch," Beckham said. "[Mayfield] puts it in a good enough place, I should make that catch, and that was the first time we did it. That’s the stuff that comes with practice."

Still, Beckham and Mayfield have progressed with their rhythm and timing since camp opened.

"I just tell [Mayfield] to do what he does," Beckham said. "There was a reason he was the first pick. There’s a reason he won the Heisman. There’s a reason he led Oklahoma to all those great seasons. I just let him tell me what he thinks I should do, and I’m just going to do that."

Mayfield isn't shy about barking orders at teammates when he feels it's necessary. Early in camp, he yelled at Beckham and other receivers to "work the [bleeping] scramble drill" as a play ended.

"I hate being yelled at," Beckham joked before turning serious. "It’s time to work. When we get on the field, it’s time to work. That’s the general, and we’re all the chiefs. Him yelling at us to 'get back to the ball, get back to the ball,' there’s no problem with it.

"He’s trying to get you open so he can make a throw to get yards for us, so I completely understand it. You got a guy like Baker and just the way that he is, you just want to work for him."

The real games won't begin until Sept. 8. For now, Beckham is confident he and Mayfield are being adequately tested.

"With the defense we have," Beckham said, "I don’t feel like people are going to score many points."

 

Nate Ulrich can be reached at nulrich@thebeaconjournal.com. Read his Browns coverage at www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ByNateUlrich and on Facebook www.facebook.com/abj.sports.